Blackwelder column: Weather causes brown patch

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 5, 2009

By Darrell Blackwelder
For Salisbury Post
High humidity from afternoon showers often creates the perfect environment for insect and disease problems. Home gardeners are experiencing problems in both landscape and vegetable gardens along with other issues. Below are a few problems posed to the horticulture agent over the past week.
Q: I have circular patches of dead grass showing up on my lawn. It has been perfect until now. Is there anything I can do to eliminate the problem?
A: Your problem sounds like brown patch. Application of fungicides will prevent the spread of the disease. There are now granular fungicides that will keep the fungus in check. You must treat the entire lawn on a regular basis for adequate control.
Q: Is there such a tree known as a blackberry tree? I found a tree in my back yard with blackberries on it. Are they edible?
A: The tree you’re speaking of is a mulberry. It is native to China and Central Asia. The fruit is very similar to blackberry. It is edible with a mild, sweet flavor. Some nurseries have white mulberry cultivars.
Q: I found a couple of bats roosting on the shutters and eaves of the gables of my house. How do I get rid of them?
A: Use a strong stream from the water hose and douse them frequently. They’ll get the message and eventually leave. You must be persistent.
Q: My young squash are rotting and dying on the vines. The plant itself is healthy, but has no fruit. What can be the problem?
A: Lack of bees for pollination is probably the problem. Avoid use of pesticides around squash or other cucurbits. Bees will eventually come back and pollinate the plant.
Q: I have black spots on our red tip photinias. How do I control this disease? Should I cut them back?
A: Heavy pruning and over-fertilization aggravate this fungal disease problem. Avoid heavy pruning, especially in the summer. The foliar disease is entomosporium leaf spot. The fungus occurs in warm, humid weather in late May and June and persists until it becomes hot and dry. Regular foliar sprays of fungicides such as daconil will give some control. However, the disease is so rampant that many people have chosen to replace this shrub with holly or another species with fewer disease problems.

Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.704-216-8970